By Jarrod Horak
The highly anticipated 19-day Santa Anita Autumn Meet gets underway on Friday, Sept. 29. The feature race on opening day is the Grade 3 Chillingworth Stakes for filly and mare dirt sprinters. The Great Race Place will host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record 11th time in 2023.
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The early portion of the Santa Anita stakes schedule will be especially important as we get closer to the 2-day Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 3-4. The Grade 1 Awesome Again on Sept. 30 is a Win & You’re In for the Classic. The winners of the Grade 1 American Pharoah (Juvenile), Grade 2 Rodeo Drive (Filly & Mare Turf), and Grade 2 Chandelier (Juvenile Fillies) also receive automatic BC berths.
Here are five things I am most looking forward to this autumn at Santa Anita:
1 – Traditional Pick 6 Returns
I used to love the old school $2 Pick 6. I hit a few decent ones over the years and had many consolation payouts. They switched to a 20 cent Rainbow 6 jackpot wager for several years, and will revert to a traditional Pick 6 for the upcoming meet. The minimum wager is $1 and 70% of the pool will go to tickets with all six winners, and the remaining 30% of the pool will go to consolation tickets with five winners. If nobody selects all six winners, 70% of the pool will carry over to the next live racing day and 30% will be paid out to winning consolation tickets. I cannot wait to dive into the real Pick 6 again!
2 – Turf Pick 3
I have played this wager at Keeneland and am happy to see it debut at Santa Anita on Sept. 29. The $3 Turf Pick 3 will be offered on the final three turf races each day. Turf races usually have bigger fields and the $3 minimum should lead to some decent payouts.
3 – Downhill Sprints
I have always been a big fan of downhill turf sprints at Santa Anita. I love playing horses with early-pressing versatility breaking from outer posts. Flat mile turf specialists have also had success on the hillside course over the years. I remember attending the 2003 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita and watching downhill races from the infield. What a ride!
4 – Breeders’ Cup Preps
Since the Breeders’ Cup is at Santa Anita this year, the local stakes preps have added importance. I mentioned the Win & You’re In races above, but other races like the Eddie D (G2), Santa Anita Sprint (G2), City of Hope (G2), Zenyatta (G2), John Henry (G2), Zuma Beach (G3), and Surfer Girl (G3) should produce BC starters and contenders. I will watch all of those races closely and share my thoughts in upcoming stakes recap articles.
5 – Breeders’ Cup
Santa Anita Park is the place to be this November. They will offer live racing on Nov. 2-5. BC Friday is Nov. 3 and BC Saturday is Nov. 4, and large international fields and numerous wagering opportunities await us. Closing day is Nov. 5 and all pools will have mandatory payouts.